This week’s New York Times Food Section included a story about the meaningful marginalia often recorded in cookbooks–whether it’s your Mom’s notes about adding less cayenne or Julia Child’s meticulous notes on technique. The record of use can be nostalgic and enlightening.
It reminded me of the envelope of yellowed recipes clipped from newspapers–mostly the New York Times, by coincidence–that I found in the Rene Verdon’s White House Cookbook. Combined with the fancy French recipes cooked for the Kennedy family and their occasions, those recipes are a record of a particular kind of culinary aspiration.
All of which reminded me of another scrap of yellowed paper I found tucked in the pages of a thrift shop cookbook.
For a while I was into the Penguin paperbacks and I’ve got some great ones–Cooking in a Bedsit, and most of the Elizabeth David books. I love their graphic style.
This envelope was tucked between the pages.
Floating inside the envelope was this hand-drawn note, which read:
Oh dear, I would have paid any price for the book at that point. The note brought a vivid picture to my mind–a miffed woman, two abashed girls, the older sister orchestrating this emotional band-aid, a father hovering somewhere in the background. I wonder if Mother ever cooked anything from this book.